Employment After Graduation
Unemployment among new law school graduates fell to the lowest level in at least a decade in 2021, according to data compiled by the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar.
For the law school Class of 2021, unemployment 10 months after graduation dropped three percentage points to 5.3%. A year earlier, unemployment 10 months after graduation for the Class of 2020 stood at 8.3%.
Also for the first time in at least a decade, more than half of all new law school graduates were working at law firms 10 months after graduation. That number has been climbing steadily over the past 10 years. For the Class of 2012, it was 39.3%. For the Class of 2021, it was 50.6%.
On the other hand, the number of new law graduates getting jobs in the business sector has been falling. For the Class of 2014, more than 15% worked in businesses 10 months after graduation. For the Class of 2021, it was 10%.
In almost every other sector, the numbers held roughly steady. For example, 1 in 10 graduates from the Class of 2021 (10.4%) took government jobs – up slightly from 10.2% a year earlier. It was nearly the same (10%) a decade ago.
Law School Graduates Unemployed 10 Months After Graduation: Class of 2012-2021
For several years, judicial clerkships grew more popular as first jobs out of law school, but that number declined for the Class of 2020 and remained lower for the Class of 2021. Nearly 1 out of 10 graduates in the Class of 2021 (9.6%) took a clerkship after graduation.
Meanwhile, the number of graduates who went into solo practice straight out of law school continued to decline. Less than 1% of all 2021 grads (0.7%) took the solo route. A decade ago, 2.3% of the Class of 2012 practiced solo – a small number but triple the current rate.